One element of building and growing your blog readership is in finding ways to increase the “stickyness” or “stick rate” of your blog content, meaning that people enjoy reading your posts and return for more.
If you’re tracking your blog traffic (and I truly hope you are), you can see, at a glance, what kind of reach your blog is getting and how many visitors are new compared to how many are returning.
If you are seeking to become more well known, you want a greater number of new visits; this is one way of understanding that your reach is growing. If you are seeking to build a steady base of loyal readers, you want a greater number of returning visitors, especially ones who return two or more times.
Over time, you’ll find that your analytics start to balance out, where you have (hopefully) both a steady stream of new visitors and a steady stream of returning visitors.
The idea of creating widespread blog readership is a worthwhile goal; but this, to my way of thinking, is more about popularity than profitability. Certainly, you can create traffic spikes through your marketing, but, generally speaking, one-time visitors to your site don’t do you much good in terms of building your business. They come to your site once, and if they don’t sign up or subscribe to anything, they click away and are gone.
If you want to ultimately build profitability with your blog, the best way to do that is by creating relationships with your readers. The depth of this relationship will be evidenced in how many times these visitors return to your site.
Let’s take a look at 5 strategies you can use to make your blog content sticky:
1) Tell stories. Stories are our oldest form of oral communication, and they represent an inherently understood means of sharing important information from one person to the next. Stories that have a well constructed framework, a powerful beginning, middle, and end, help create relevancy and substance for your website visitor. Sometimes your stories will be designed to educate, sometimes to inform, sometimes to entertain. Stories work to create resonance. And resonance is a powerful component towards generating returning visitors.
2) Use pictures. I’m not always 100% the best with this, but pictures in your blog posts can increase the length of time visitors remain on your site. Pictures require more integrated processing from a neuroscientific perspective, and can contribute to a visitor’s interest and attention to your content.Write what people want to know. When you can capture someone’s attention, you have begun the process of creating a relationship with them.
3) Create experiences. Can you help demonstrate or illustrate in ways other than just text on the page? Can you use memes? Word graphics? Videos? Audios? Is there a way to help the visitor experience in more senses than just visual? (Personally, I’m waiting for the day when we can transfer smells through the Internet. My blog is going to smell like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!) Experiences are unique and often cause the visitor to linger. Video and audio can also accelerate the process of connection and relationship building.
4) Write what people want to know. Ok, this seems obvious, but one of the best ways to create returning visitors is to share information that helps make your visitors happier, healthier, or more successful. To the extent that you can cultivate a unique perspective, maybe sharing information that nobody else is, or offering information that other people can’t, you will create more mindshare. With enough mindshare, this means people will seek you out to learn more and access more. This is the first step in building your thought leadership and creating influence with your audience. Writing what they want to know puts you in the position of being a trusted resource.
5) Publish consistently. This is another one I’m working to become better with, but I think that the more regularly you publish, the stronger your blog and your blogging reputation will be. We are ingrained to respond to stability and consistency. We want to know when there will be new content available, and we want new content to be there when we expect. If your blog visitors return too many times and your site hasn’t been updated, many of them will begin to see out other sites to replace yours. This is why I suggest starting small with your blog writing strategy, and building up from there. Better to publish two times a week for a year than 24 times in 1 month and then never again.
The goal of your blog, really, is to help build a community of readers who might eventually become fans. You can accelerate the rate at which this occurs by utilizing the strategies I’ve shared here. Pick one to begin with, and then add in the rest from there.
Your returning visitor count will show you that you’re on the right track.